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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Fake blood gets woman hernia op
An essential ingredient of fake blood?
A woman mixed cranberry juice with crumbled biscuits to simulate her own blood and get herself admitted to hospital.

Trizka Litton phoned 999 and called an ambulance, claiming to have vomited blood.

She was admitted to Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry, where she underwent surgery to correct a serious hiatus hernia.

Mrs Litton said she had no choice as she had been waiting seven months for an operation.

I still don't know what came over me or how I could have even thought of cooking up such a preposterous plot.
Trizka Litton
She told The Times newspaper: "I carried a heavy burden of guilt and shame at being forced to cheat and lie.

"But that vanished when doctors told me just how near death I had been."

Mrs Litton was given medication after her hernia was diagnosed three years ago.

But she said she suffered unbearable pains as her condition began to deteriorate.

She was told that she needed surgery in 2001 after coughing up large amounts of blood.

Her stomach had been pushed up into her chest cavity and was pressing on her heart and lungs.

However, her surgery was cancelled three times in three weeks, and finally she decided to take matters into her own hands in November last year.

"What I did was completely out of character. I still don't know what came over me or how I could have even thought of cooking up such a preposterous plot." she said.

Mrs Litton got rid of her fake blood, which she was carrying in a plastic container, before it could be tested.

She finally underwent surgery 17 hours after arriving at the hospital.

Surgeons found that almost all of her stomach had moved into the chest cavity and was pressing on her heart.

Hospital statement

If a patient tells us that they have been coughing up blood our responsibility is to take that seriously and act on it.
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
The University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust issued a statement defending the delay in Mrs Litton's treatment.

"This is not about beds being available but prioritising patients' clinical needs.

"This lady was seen in April 2002 by a Consultant Surgeon. She needed a non urgent hernia operation.

"Her condition was not life threatening and the surgeon explained that she would be put on the waiting list and the amount of time she could expect to wait.

"She was also told that if her symptoms changed she should contact her GP or the hospital and she would be reassessed and if necessary operated on earlier.

"As far as we are aware the next time she contacted the hospital was when she arrived in A&E in November 2002.

"She was in some discomfort but again her condition was not life threatening.

"She told doctors she had coughed up blood and so was admitted to a ward for further assessment. The patient was suffering some discomfort and so was operated on."

The trust said Mrs Litton had since written to the hospital thanking the surgeon for the care she had received.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment on what this lady did to get herself admitted but if a patient tells us that they have been coughing up blood our responsibility is to take that seriously and act on it.

"In this case the lady had thrown away the mixture she had made before doctors could see it and therefore we were duty bound to take her claims seriously."

Did you use unusual tactics to get more speedy hospital treatment? Or do you know of somebody who did? Tell us your story.

I went to hospital a couple of years ago with abdominal pains that a doctor had tentatively diagnosed as kidney stone. The A&E was crowded and I reckoned that a stiff upper lip was not appropriate. I over-dramatised my condition, almost to the extent of rolling around on the floor, to get attention quicker. I was rushed straight into treatment and a morphine injection but I still feel a bit guilty when I remember those people sitting stoically in the reception area, waiting for their turn.
Chris Morrison, UK

I went into A&E with chest pains on my right side that I thought were probably pulled muscles or fractured ribs from playing rugby. No sooner had I said the words, "pain in my chest", I was whisked straight through and stuck on a cardiac monitor, without the staff taking much notice of why I thought I was in pain. After much testing and scratching of heads amongst the Cardiology staff, they finally came up with a diagnosis of - pulled muscles and a fractured rib. I do wish doctors would listen to their patients.
Mike, UK

The worse public services get, the more desperate people will become
Ron, London
This is a sign of things to come. The worse public services get, the more desperate people will become. Public services will become more untrusting and people in turn will come up with bigger, better lies. Of course, it doesn't have to be this way, if our Labour government invests to ensure we get the best public services in the world, we can all go back to the standard of living we used to have, instead of pretending to be a Third World country.
Ron, London

Well she got what she needed/wanted. Good for her. I wonder how many other people have had to wait that little bit longer because of what she has done.

Good on this woman for taking things into her own hands. They say her condition wasn't life threatening, but her stomach was pressing into her heart? Doctors cannot put a measure on pain and suffering and 3 years is a long time to be in constant pain.
Danielle, England

Good for her! I would definitely try this if I thought my health wasn't being taken seriously. If the NHS stopped wasting money on 'management' and spent more on doctors, nurses and equipment, people wouldn't have to resort to these kind of tactics.
Karl, UK

All we have to do is GM modify cranberries with the haemoglobin gene for a cheap blood substitute!
Barry Wilbourn, Dept. of Haematology, University College London

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11 Mar 03  |  Medical notes
Man died after 'hernia op delay'
18 Sep 03  |  Coventry/Warwickshire

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